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Mumbai Indians’ left arm medium pacer Zaheer Khan might not take the field on Tuesday. He is believed to have strained his back in the previous match against Kings XI Punjab. “Zaheer has strained his left latissmus dorsi muscle and has to undergo a thorough medical assessment. He is unlikely to play tomorrow,” MI head coach John Wright said. “It is bit of a blow for us, but we are hoping it is not too serious not only for the IPL, but also his other international commitments,” he added.
When asked if the absence of Zaheer would add pressure on Lasith Malinga, Wright said, “I think he is at a stage of his career where he enjoys pressure and any world-class performer probably flips the coin with pressure and probably sees it more as an opportunity than something of a threatening situation to be in it. He is at a stage of his career where he knows exactly how to prepare. For each game, he has got a pretty good idea as to where to bowl for each batsman and has a full repertoire. He has been magnificent for us for a long time.”
After an unsuccessful UAE leg, the Mumbai Indians found solace at home registering a five-wicket win at the Wankhede stadium over the Kings XI Punjab. Wright was happy with the way the mood in the camp had changed after their first win in the competition. “One of the good things about the victory the other day is that we actually beat the team that beat everybody. It was a much-needed victory. We struggled but it was great to get back here. I think everyone enjoyed getting back here and we haven't lost a match here for a long time, so we want to continue that here tomorrow. We are a very happy changing room and people are more relaxed and more players are looking in form and coming into form, so that is good for us.”
MI will be facing a strong RCB batting line-up and Wright was asked about MI’s plans for such a power-packed batting line-up. Wright said that he believes in acquiring as much information as possible and implementing it on the field. “We spend a lot of time looking at the various statistics and replays of players as to where they hit the ball. There is a lot of information available on those areas. If you look at the RCB batting line-up, it is very formidable. There are two aspects to it; the accuracy of the analysis and the execution of the same. It is all about putting the information into practice in the middle.”
Mumbai Indians, who opened their account in Pepsi IPL 2014 with a win over Kings XI Punjab in their previous outing, clash with Royal Challengers Bangalore in Match 27 of the season.
MI had a disastrous tour of the UAE, losing all of their five matches there. However, in their very first outing on Indian soil, in front of a vocal home crowd, the team appeared a rejuvenated version of the one that competed in the UAE and overhauled table-toppers KXIP in a big run-chase. They will take confidence from that performance and believe they have now set the wheels rolling.
RCB’s campaign seemed to have gone off track after the first couple of wins. In the previous match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bengaluru, their bowlers set up the match by restricting the visitors to 155. However, a wobble at the start of the run-chase meant the match hung in the balance until the dying moments when AB de Villiers blew away Dale Steyn to win the match single-handedly.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 8 pm IST
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
For the Mumbai Indians to do well, they will need runs from their skipper Rohit Sharma. The 27-year-old hasn’t been at his best so far this season – and the uncertainty in his batting position has added to his woes. He has scored runs in three innings out of six, but he will be aware that his team expects more from him – and the runs need to be scored at a faster rate too. Two other batsmen in the MI ranks have important roles to play; Ambati Rayudu needs to go back to his role of anchoring the innings, while Kieron Pollard needs to play those impact-innings he is capable of playing more often. After a slow start to the season, Pollard has come good in the last three matches. The 139 runs in the last three innings – at a strike-rate of 154.44 – means the Trinidadian is now MI’s top run-getter.
In the RCB line-up, one doesn’t have to look beyond Chris Gayle to find an impact player. The Jamaican isn’t completely fit, but he is not the kind of player who relies on running between the 22 yards. In his two outings this season, he has already given us signs that the injury hasn’t had any impact on his stroke-making abilities. The boundaries at the Wankhede Stadium aren’t that far – and one therefore hopes it will rain big shots from the RCB opener’s willow. Among the others to look forward to are Virat Kohli (who has struggled for runs in the last few matches) and AB de Villiers (who played a sensational innings against Sunrisers Hyderabad in RCB’s previous outing).
The individual contests to look forward to in this game are Virat Kohli taking on Lasith Malinga’s bowling, and Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh going up against Harbhajan Singh.
Notes from previous match
Mumbai Indians v Kings XI Punjab: In this format of the game, which gives batsmen little time to get their eye in and assess conditions, it is important that set batsmen finish the job. CM Gautam, Rohit Sharma and Corey Anderson made 30-od each, but none of them stayed on to finish the job. The other note MI coach John Wright would have made is about the top order not making good use of the field restrictions early on; there were 20 dot balls in the first six overs when the field restrictions were in force.
Royal Challengers Bangalore v Sunrisers Hyderabad: RCB coach Allan Donald would have reserved a pat for his bowlers – especially Mitchell Starc – for the way they restricted SRH to 155/6 on a good batting track at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. However, among areas of concern will be the form of the batsmen. Between them, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, Rilee Rossouw and Yuvraj Singh consumed 44 balls for a total of 31 runs. They will be aware that they cannot do this often and expect someone like AB de Villiers to rescue them every time.
Honours are shared between the Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 14 previous meetings between the two teams. In matches at the Wankhede Stadium, the visitors – RCB – have an edge, having beaten the hosts twice in three meetings.
In five innings in RCB colours against the Mumbai Indians, Chris Gayle has scored 287 runs – which includes scores of 89, 82* and 92* – at a strike-rate of 149.48.
RCB captains have won only 3 coin tosses in 14 matches against MI.
Mumbai Indians will play their third consecutive home game when they host the Chennai Super Kings on May 10. Royal Challengers Bangalore, meanwhile, head back home to host Kings XI Punjab on May 9.